Introduction: Fact Finding Team to Kashmir
This post introduces a fact finding team’s work on the recent violence in Kashmir. The contents of the report are being posted as separate posts and will be linked below as and when they’re posted.
Since June this year, the Kashmir valley has been torn by mass protests which have been met with overwhelming force by Indian security forces. Curfews and closures have been frequent, often shading into each other. No less than 111 deaths have been registered, of which a large number have been of students and youth in the age group of 8 to 25 years. There have besides, been hundreds of cases of injuries, of both protesters and those who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. An independent fact-finding team went to the Kashmir valley at the end of October to go into the totality of the situation, principally to inquire into the causes for the unconscionably large number of deaths that have occurred in the current phase of mass agitation. The team comprised of academic BELA BHATIA, advocate VRINDA GROVER, journalist SUKUMAR MURALIDHARAN and activist RAVI HEMADRI of The Other Media, a Delhi based campaign and advocacy organisation, at whose initiative the effort was organised. Each member of the team spent varying lengths of time in the valley, but in total, roughly about twenty-five person days were put in the fact-finding exercise. In groups or individually, the team met the families of almost 40 persons who had been killed since the beginning of the civil unrest. Several individuals who had suffered serious injuries were also met. The team worked out of the state capital of Srinagar, and visited villages and towns in five of the Kashmir valley’s ten districts: Baramulla in the north (Sopore and Baramulla tehsils); Anantnag (Bijbehara and Anantnag tehsils) and Pulwama (Pulwama tehsil) in the south; Badgam in the west (Chadura and Badgam tehsils) and Srinagar itself. Separate sessions were held with journalists and media practitioners, university teachers and students, doctors, lawyers and activists besides officials in the police headquarters and the civil administration. The findings of the team are being released in a series of short reports beginning with following two sections. Forthcoming reports will deal with various facets of the situation that civilians in the Kashmir valley face in a season of unabated turmoil.